Winter has very much arrived but there are still plenty of accessible walking routes.

The latest in our series supplied by Swindon Ramblers is a good example.

Skirting the southern edge of Swindon and taking in Coate Water Country Park, it is ideal for anybody who wants to get out and about but doesn’t relish overly muddy paths.

Although treacherous terrain is at a minimum throughout the relatively easy route, stout footwear and all-weather gear are still recommended.

DISTANCE: Four miles

OS MAPS: Explorer 169, Landranger 173

START: The starting point is the car park at Coate Water Country Park, where a fee will be charged. Many bus routes pass the entrance to the country park, which is off the Coate Water roundabout at the junction of Queens Drive, Marlborough Road and Dorcan Way.

REFRESHMENTS: The cafe at the country park has been operating for more than 40 years and offers a range of hot drinks and food. The route also passes a golf complex which has a restaurant.


1 Leave the car park and climb up to the dam of the reservoir. Turn left to walk alongside the lake, which will be on the right. The path leads around the lake and will eventually reach and cross another dam with the nature reserve on the left.

2 Turn right after crossing this dam, and then follow the path through the woods to reach Broome Manor Lane. Turn right on to the path between the road and the end of the lake until it reaches the point where it meets the path which runs along the western side of the lake.

3 Cross the road and follow the path outside the edge of the golf course, past Nightingale Farm. Having passed the farm, continue past Fir Clump at the side of the M4 until you reach a bridge over the motorway.

4 Bear right to follow the track - Ladder Lane - which formed part of the old coaching route to Marlborough. Continue along the track, heading slightly uphill, until you reach the road. Turn right.

5 At the traffic lights, turn right and walk toward the golf club complex. Pass the club house on the right. Follow the path with houses on the left and golf courses on the right until it emerges on to Broome Manor Lane.

6 Cross the road and a patch of grass to enter the Polo Ground. Walk along the lower edge of the Polo Ground, with trees planted on both sides of the path, until you come to the far corner by a pond. Cross the footbridge over a stream and finally turn left to return to the car park.

AS with many of the routes provided by Swindon Ramblers, this one has plenty to offer people interested in nature and local history.

Coate Water Country Park began life in the early 1820s, when the course of the River Cole was altered to provide a source of water for the Wilts and Berks Canal.

By the middle of the century, canals were losing trade to the unstoppable rise of the railways, and as Swindon was home to the Great Western Railway the of fate of the Wilts and Berks was sealed.

Coate Water was transformed from a canal reservoir to a leisure destination in 1914. The lake and the area around it form a habitat for countless species of birds, mammals, amphibians and insects.

A lesser-known feature passed during the walk is the site of the Fir Clump stone circle, which was once part of the network of ancient features criss-crossing the Swindon area.

Already ancient by the time of the Roman invasion, the circle was in place as recently as the 19th century but was cleared for reasons lost to time.

Remains of the stones were discovered and removed during the construction of the M4.